We read a lot about the dangers of link buying to increase PageRank. I have tried to dispel some of the myths about links that habitually make the rounds, but many continue to circulate.
Google has been fairly clear about their stand on link buying. You got two choices, acquire links naturally that will count toward your eventual PageRank, or buy them and no-follow them. If you don’t no-follow, you will be booted to the bottom of the SERP pile for being a sneaky snake (thank you, MAD TV).
A lot of people decided that any links on their site that were paid were akin to illegal drugs and flushed them as discretely as possible. But that wasn’t the real message, was it?
Seriously, if Google says a no-follow attribute CMA ( yes, that stands for ‘covers my ***’) then I am going to take them at their word until proven otherwise. This means I can buy links to my little hearts content, as long as I make it clear to Google that I expect no PageRank to accrue, and I am not trying to sneak one past them.
Paying for a link from a site likely to drive heavy traffic my way is sometimes worth more than running around frantically trying to wheedle a natural one from a high PageRank site in a manic attempt to climb the SERPs.
It’s just an ad, really – and as long as I use the no-follow attribute I should have no problem.
But what about selling links? Does Google only come down on the buyers, or are the sellers in jeopardy too? This is where it gets sticky.
You have to trust that the buyer you have sold the link to is no-following it properly to CYA (yes, you know what that stands for). If Google sees a site trying to pump PageRank with a paid link, and traces that link back to you — well, let’s just say that you will be considered a partner in crime.
It may be tempting to sell links for some extra cash, but it might not be worth it if you are worried about rankings. In the first place, every outbound link can and will decrease your own PageRank, and if somebody else breaks the rules the consequences to you may be devastating.
Of course, you have the ultimate threat – if they don’t no-follow, you simply remove the link from your site. It really depends on how big a can of worms you want to open.
Transparency is what many are demanding from Google – and Google demands it right back. As long as you keep your nose clean, you should be alright – but once Google decides you are a sneaky snake (sorry, that is just such a perfect descriptive phrase) you will have a hard time proving otherwise.
(Note: Any resemblance between Google and Michael McDonald’s MAD TV character Sean is strictly implied and not to be taken seriously.)